Since its beginning, Redeemer has been committed to being part of a movement of new churches in the city. Fifteen years ago we developed the Church Planting Center as a department inside Redeemer. Eventually this became its own missions agency, Redeemer City to City, which has helped plant hundreds of churches in scores of the largest global cities in the world, as well as working with Redeemer to plant churches in New York City.
At Redeemer we often speak of serving, strengthening, and “renewing” New York City. When we talk like this, we must be careful not to deny “common grace.” We believe God gives all people — not just Christian believers — talent and insight to preserve and cultivate human life. But what if the Body of Christ in center city New York were, for example, to triple over the next decade or so? What difference might it make?
In the past, if you believed in the full authority of the Bible, your skeptical neighbors would have disagreed and explained why they couldn’t accept the Bible, and maybe even laughed at you in private.
Today, as never before, the character of the Bible is publicly attacked as cruel and oppressive and those who uphold the historic view of its truthfulness are seen in the same light. There’s enormous social pressure on Christians today to abandon the historic understanding of the inspiration and authority of the Scripture and the role it should play in our lives.
The ancients saw history as repetitious and endless. Christianity, however, understands history to be under the control of God who is moving it purposefully toward a great and irreversible climax.
One of the more striking things about the gospel of Mark (and the other gospels) is how much attention Jesus gives to the human heart.